We are fortunate to ride in some pretty beautiful locations and events throughout the year in Italy, and there are some that we look forward to more than others. La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo is definitely one of them.
Still relatively unknown and hosted in a region that is largely undiscovered, we share our top 5 reasons why you should ride this amazing Italian Gran Fondo and hold a firm place for it on your bike bucket list.
1.Climbing Colle Fauniera
This is a serious, but very beautiful challenge of 22k’s taking you up to 2480+m, however while climbing it, you’ll never get bogged down in the numbers. It’s just a small mountain road that keeps turning back on itself as it weaves its way to a junction that takes you off into France, and then shortly to the summit. Here you’ll stop for refreshments and take in what you have accomplished as you look back at the view down the mountain. But wait, there’s more… the descent is just as amazing. You initially roll along through the rocky top of the pass with corners that just seem to drop away into nothing below, before the twisting ribbon of tarmac is presented before you in the valley below. It is an adrenaline filled experience with all your senses in a heightened state, as you take in the activity that surrounds you; other riders pass, marshalls stand at hairy corners alerting you to sharp turns, the sounds of falling rocks and running streams surround, and the quintessential alpine sound of cow bells intermittently fill the air. It is just superb.
2.An impeccably well organised event
La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo is an event that is close to perfect. The riding is off the charts, but so is the event as a whole. Everything seems to click together effortlessly, and this is multi-faceted.
From the safety on the road when you are descending the tricky points of the course, to the food/fuel/water stops that are well stocked and the friendly smiling people looking after riders when needed. The grand departure is one mass start, which is a balance of calm and nervous energy, while the event registration, jersey pick up and expo, and the post ride celebrations are all carried out in the molto tranquillo Italian style.
The last 20 odd k’s are unreal. You have made it to the top of Madonna del Colletto, the final climb of the day, and all you have remaining to finish is around 23km….and it’s all downhill. The first 7 k’s is a proper downhill off the mountain and then the remainder is slight, but with the finish looming, you give it everything as you steam through the outer villages, with the traffic held back in place by the marshalls giving you right of way. This theme continues with the turns coming quickly, before you go through an arch, take another right hander and then boom…. you’re back in the piazza with the finish line before you. It’s just the best finale for a gran fondo.
4.The Cottian Alps
Colle Fauniera is a stunning mountain pass at 2480+m which sits in the Cottian Alps, in the east of Piemonte, bordering France. For whatever reason, these alps are not visited as highly as other alpine regions, but for us this is a blessing because you can climb these passes with fewer cars and motor bikes intruding on your quiet ascent up into the clouds. In their own right, they are beautiful and the surrounding landscape is just stunning, but when combined with only the sounds of the alpine cow bells and the sights of a few shepherds or a lone dog, the experience is elevated to something that you’ll never forget. It is riding heaven.
5.Piemonte post ride food and wine rewards
As with every challenge, there needs to be a reward and La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo delivers it in spades. Firstly, you have the ride experience which is incredible, but then there is the post ride high, where we get to share the day’s stories over a typical Piemontese beer or aperitivo of negroni, followed by a final dinner in celebration of not only the gran fondo, but also the amazing roads and mountains we’ve ridden over 8 days. This is the culmination of an unparalleled week of riding, food and wine; of the gastronomic region of Piemonte’s typical specialties of Vitello tonnato, Tajarin al ragu and Ravioli plin accompanied by the world class wines of Barbaresco, Dolcetto di Dogliani and Barolo.
All in all, Piemonte in our opinion is an undiscovered Italian gem, both on and off the bike. So if you’d like to discover this incredible climb and region by joining us on our Tour of Piemonte and La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo in 2020, click the link to find out more or here to send us an email.